White Changemaker Donates Kidney to Black Changemaker

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Two activists from La Crosse Anti-Racism Task Force are living what they believe in -- but need $20,000 to do it.

On August 6, 2008 Thomas Harris will gratefully accept a kidney from Marilyn Levin at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. They're not related. They aren't the same race. They know each other as fellow community activists who served together on social justice efforts like the La Crosse Wisconsin Mayors Anti-Racism Task Force and the Martin Luther King Non-Violence Project to name a few. http://kidney4thomas.com

If you asked Thomas or Marilyn about each other the last thing they would even think to tell you is that they're different races. Marilyn explains it this way, "Many people wondered why I would give an organ to someone who wasn't family or a close friend, but in my world view Thomas is family. Mother Teresa says that 'if we do not have peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other'. I want to live in a way that recognizes that I am part of a global human family."

The kidney donation process started when Thomas was at the National White Privilege Conference in Massachusetts and Marilyn was getting tested at Mayo Clinic. Thomas says "While I was working for justice at the conference, Marilyn was working for me."

From Marilyn's perspective it is a great honor to make a difference in this way. She says "Thomas is a wonderful man making positive change happen in the world and I want him around a long time."

To learn more about their story go to http://kidney4thomas.com.

Now that the date is set for the transplant, Thomas and Marilyn are tasked with raising $20,000 in funds to assist in paying for expenses that aren't covered by insurance.

While expenses for medical evaluation, surgery and hospital care are covered by the recipients insurance, there are additional costs associated with the donation process that must be covered by the recipient and the donor.

The common costs incurred come from travel and accommodations as well as lost income. In Thomas' case as the recipient he is also responsible for paying the costs for dental extraction before the surgery and anti-rejection medications after the surgery. The donor and the recipient both require caregivers that will take off work, and pay for accommodations and travel from Mequon Wisconsin, New Orleans Louisiana and Austin Texas. These are just a few of the major expenses. The website outlines all of the additional expenses.

Neither Thomas, Marilyn can afford to shoulder all of these additional costs. A special fund has been setup to allow others to help make this transplant possible through their generous donation.

Their fund raising efforts have been successful so far but they have a long way to go.

Donations are being accepted at http://kidney4thomas.com

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Cyndi Smasal

512-243-7055
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Marilyn Levin

512-940-6202
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